Financial Red Flags to Look Out for Before Marriage

You’ve found your partner for life and the rush of excitement after a proposal can often leave many elated and eager to spend on that lavish dream wedding. But before you put all your hard earned money into a day of celebration, it might be a good idea to zoom out and have “the talk” with your partner. By this we mean, openly chatting about money, life goals, the new home, car and other financial decisions. As amazing as your partner may be, it’s important to keep an eye out for red flags and address them now before you exchange your vows. 

Here are some red flags to look out for:

1. Refusing to talk about money… ever

Talking about money can be cumbersome and boring but it’s another thing altogether if your partner refuses to share anything about their finances. This could often mean bigger issues brewing that you both will benefit from dealing with earlier, such as loan and uncontrolled gambling habits. Big purchases like a matrimonial home or hotel banquets are likely to be the first major money conversations you both will have. 

Start these conversations early with honesty and discuss money values and how you both intend to spend it. If your partner is resistant for a long period of time then you may want to take a step back and try other approaches. Be sure to settle this before you start to build a future together. 

2. Inability to find a middle-ground 

It’s common to find some differences in how you and your partner spend or save. Don’t fret as this is common coming from different backgrounds. Afterall, you’ve both had different lifestyles and independence in managing your finances. However, if you’re going to get married, you need to find a compromise that you can both agree on. 

Having an agreement on how much of your salaries go into essentials like the mortgage is vital in the early stages of marriages. Go through crucial finance rules to build your foundation together. Couples who share the same financial values will find themselves happier and more appreciative of each other’s gestures and gifts. But this is unlikely to happen without open conversations with your partner. 

3. Unwillingness to manage and reduce debt

Credit cards are a common feature and function of our daily lives. But in a world of consumerism, unnecessary debt is something that many could fall prey to these days. With interest rates as high as 24% per annum on overdue credit card spending, your unpaid credit card bill would double in three years. The minimum amount required to be paid is just the interest incurred, paying that sum each month doesn’t help to reduce the size of the debt itself. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to marry someone in debt but you want to make sure that they are willing to make adjustments to their lifestyle and money antics for a future you share. You should also be aware of the potential problems like getting rejected for mortgage loans for your joint home purchases. Talking about these issues early helps to ensure that you can attempt to solve the problems before it snowballs to an amount you both can’t afford. Helping your partner to divert money into growing wealth instead of interests that feed the banks will be beneficial to your marriage. 

4. Your partner is unwilling to share details about their money (and income)

Some secrets are hard to hide when your lives are moving towards a marriage. After having a chat about finances, you may find some gaps in the money they make, the amount of savings they claimed to have and their spending habits. Unless your partner is running a business with irregular income, this discrepancy and secrecy might be a red flag. They might be hiding their debt, have spending problems, or in some cases – dating someone else at the same time (I’ve seen this happen to someone before!). If your partner is being exceptionally secretive, be sure to address this red flag before you progress any further.

5. Does not prioritise savings and investing

A lifestyle is overly lavish if it’s something that cannot be sustained. No problems with the instagram worthy lifestyle of nice vacations and meals, splurging on fancy cars and jewellery. But you may want to make sure that these spending habits will not deter your future plans. It’s important to agree on whether such a lifestyle is sustainable. If your partner has no savings or investments, this will affect your future together, especially if either of you lose your job (link emergency fund article) or if a health emergency occurs. So be sure to look out for such habits and make sure you’re both saving, investing and planning financially for the future. 

Addressing these red flags now is a great way to look out for your relationship and future. The key is to start the conversation even before you start planning for the wedding. The more transparency there is, the less misunderstandings and deep set financial issues there will be in the marriage. Have these talks before you say “I do”!

The author is from Planner Bee.

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